For my first informative post, I have decided that it would be best for me to start with the basics of my path as a Hunter. This will be the first of many posts that delve into what this path means to me, how it affects my life, and how to recognize if this path calls to you or if someone you know may be a Hunter. As I stated in my introductory post, this path is almost exclusively based on UPG. You won’t find any information on Hunting in Wikipedia or Encyclopedia Britannica; you may find scattered references or tidbits in history (such as the dhampir, traditionally Hunters of vampires), but very little solid information. I have only recently learned of a possible historically-known warrior path (the fénnidi), that may be categorized as Hunters; however, this is an old path (my UPG is that it goes back at least to proto-Indo-European times) and I’m sure there are others.
Hunters: Defining Practices and Traits
To start with, a Hunter is a specific kind of spiritual warrior. “Spiritual warrior” is a broad category, including among it many different paths. In general, spiritual warriors are persons whose duty is to defend someone(s) or something(s) from harmful spiritual entities. This can take many forms; a spiritual warrior might be a casual practitioner of magick who helps spirits move on or banishes them if needed, or they could be someone who is sworn to protect a sacred place with their lives. While spiritual warriors are relatively common, Hunters tend to be rare. I haven’t met many outside of those I’ve trained with, in this realm or on others.
I have spent many years thinking about what makes a Hunter different from other kinds of spiritual warriors. The main difference is in the way Hunters fight; we rely primarily on martial prowess mixed with simple but effective bursts of magick. Hunters tend to be more physical than other spiritual warriors, and unlike most, we prefer to fight on the physical plane rather than on the astral. Most Hunters that I’ve met fight hand-to-hand or with some kind of weapon. This may be a physical weapon, it may be spiritual or astral in nature, or it may be a combination of the two (for example, a physical bow with spiritual arrows). This can get a bit strange for anyone watching the Hunter work (or even for the Hunter themselves) as most observers will see the Hunter fighting an invisible entity and are likely to consider them to be crazy. A few Hunters prefer to rely on their magick more than their martial skill, which is often much less noticeable.
Hunters tend to share a certain set of mannerisms and quirks both in real life and in media portrayals (which I’ll get to later). These include: a flair for the dramatic (such as in wearing unusual clothes and making grand entrances), an enjoyment of gallows humor and snark, walking with a strong gait or “swagger”, confidence (some would say cockiness), stubbornness, a solitary nature (most often in an attempt to keep one’s loved ones out of harm’s way), practicality, and a tendency to wear black. It’s also very common for Hunters to have dyslexia, which will make more sense when I go into the history of Hunters in a later post. Additionally, while most spiritual warriors work from the edge of society, removed from it and yet still a part of it, Hunters tend to work from outside society and are known for wandering from place to place, picking up work wherever they go.
Female Hunters, or Huntresses, have some additional unique traits. They’re more rare than males – it’s a ratio of about 1:5, which I’ll go into more in later posts. Huntresses are usually more pragmatic and less emotionally driven than male Hunters. They’re more willing to “take the nuclear option”, so to speak, which is saying something amongst Hunters. They also, oddly, have a lack of culinary skill (I have no idea why this is the case, it’s just something I’ve noticed over time).
Generally, Hunters can work well with other spiritual warriors. I can say from personal experience that though I can work with basically anyone if it involves a common goal, I prefer to handle things by myself because I tend to deal with things differently than most. Finally, because this path is largely informed by UPG and because many Hunters are quite headstrong, I’ve also seen Hunters who have strong, differing opinions on how to categorize an entity or handle a situation. If they aren’t able to compromise or find the truth in the middle, the discussion can very quickly devolve into an argument.
Walking the Hunter’s Path
Being a Hunter – or any kind of spiritual warrior – takes talent as well the training to hone that talent into skill. First, one needs to be able to See or feel various beings and entities, corporeal and non-corporeal, as well as magick and energy in general. Usually this is an innate, untrained talent. When I’m considering whether or not to take someone on as an apprentice, this is one of the first things I look for. The next thing that is crucial for Hunters is trusting in oneself and one’s senses and instincts. On this path, almost everything you deal with is non-physical and every time you deal with them it’s based purely on one’s own senses, so it’s very important to be able to trust yourself. This can be trained, but it may be difficult to do so depending on the person.
The other part about being a Hunter is that, unlike many spiritual paths, it seems to be a uniquely (or possibly predominantly) human path. Every Hunter that I’ve met has either been human, part-human, or incarnated within a human body. For example, in my case, I didn’t embark on the Hunter path until after I had incarnated as human. Because of this, Hunters have to undergo certain kinds of training in order to be able to best the kinds of dangers that they will face, and they must also learn how to identify a wide variety of non-corporeal creatures.
A Hunter must undergo training in magick, and they should begin or keep up with a regular meditation practice. They need to be trained in at least the basics of fighting; if the Hunter uses a particular weapon, they need to undergo training with that weapon as well. In addition, they should keep up with general fitness. It’s not that every Hunter needs to be a perfect physical specimen, but the job of moving around large amounts of energy as well as engaging in hand-to-hand and physical combat is far easier if one is in reasonable shape. Finally, the majority of Hunters also take on modifications to their basic form to improve their speed, reflexes, stamina, and so on; Hunters who don’t undergo these modifications must make up for it with more rigorous training.
Though this isn’t always the case, most Hunters that undergo some kind of modification also have a change in their (astral) appearance and mannerisms, and their energy will feel quite different. I have already listed the kinds of mannerisms that most Hunters have; some people have these traits naturally, while others only gain them upon becoming a Hunter. In every case I’ve seen, these mannerisms only manifest in full force after they undergo these modifications. Sometimes these traits are a direct result of the modifications – for example, these Hunters often have a grey-ish or black aura, and those who can sense auras usually find this off-putting at best. Wearing black clothing helps to obfuscate this aura and make us more approachable, and additionally helps to absorb negative energy.
Obviously, as we live in a Veiled realm, it is not possible to physically undergo these sorts of modifications in our realm, but they can be done astrally. Additionally, many Hunters have already undergone this kind of transformation in another life in an Unveiled realm. Either way, following the modification, it is essential to use meditation and balancing techniques to bring one’s astral self closer to one’s physical self so that one can access its benefits on the hunt and in one’s day-to-day life with greater ease.
It’s important to note that these modifications are not permanent. I personally underwent a few different modifications throughout my various lives as well as in this one, and not all them apply anymore. For example, in one of my past lives, I gained vampiric abilities. As my path shifted in this life, I decided that I no longer needed or wanted them. I had this modification removed with a simple ritual and the aid of Odin. Other modifications may be harder to undo, but it is always possible to remove them. After removal, it’s quite likely that one will briefly enter fallow times until one can reconnect with one’s astral self and relearn how to rely only on one’s other abilities and modifications.
As for the way in which Hunters undergo their training and initiation, I have personally seen two varieties. Hunters are most often self-trained. I myself am self-trained and learned how to sense and fight various beings through trial and error, though I had the help of my then-best friend who was also a Hunter, as well as the spirits who guided us. Even though we were both gifted with very accurate Sight, this was still a process that took three years before we both felt reasonably confident in our senses and methodology.
The second way is to be apprenticed to another Hunter who has already gone through their training. I have trained several Hunters in this way; they were curious about learning more of how I sensed and fought things and wanted to be able to do the same. Additionally, I look for indicators that they might have been a Hunter in a past life, that they have strong Sight, and that they are capable in combat. After this, I walk them through the process of discovering their true name (or the name of their astral self) in meditation, if they don’t already know it. After that, they can begin the process of bringing themselves into closer balance with their astral self. From there, it’s just a matter of teaching them about the various creatures that are out there and how best to deal with them.
It’s also possible to be a Legacy Hunter – someone who is a Hunter through their bloodline by inheriting the changes that the previous generations have undergone, or by receiving one’s training from a family member. For example, I have trained three Hunters, none of whom would be considered Legacy Hunters because they were not related to me; however, if I were to have a kid and train them as a Hunter, my kid would then be a Legacy. Although this is popular in media portrayals, it’s pretty rare in real life. I know of them, but I have never met a Legacy myself.
On the Hunt
Hunters differ in the exact ways in which they sense and deal with things, but the process of Hunting is similar in most cases. A Hunter may already have a specific target in mind, or they may be simply patrolling an area, but the Hunt begins when we sense the presence of a negative entity. Most Hunters I know agree that this presence feels like something out of place or something that feels “wrong”. Most Hunters can tell approximately how far away this entity is and in what direction, and the feeling grows stronger and more specific to the creature as we get closer to it. When we’re tracking the entity, it’s not uncommon for us to get lost in the feeling of Hunting and to not know exactly where we’re going or recall how we got there.
Once we’ve tracked our quarry, the next step is to determine exactly what we’re dealing with. This is most often done by Seeing or hearing them. We don’t usually see them as solidly as a physical being – it’s more like looking at their outline. The best way I can think of to describe it is how cloaked units appear in games and movies – their shape slightly distorts the environment around them, so you can see their outline and general form. For me, after sensing their energy and seeing its general shape, my mind fills in the rest of its appearance.
Sometimes, as with any kind of UPG, their appearance or attributes are translated into a form one can better comprehend – for me, this is usually some kind of video game visual. I refer to this translation versus the actual form as an “impression” from the media in question. It is important to note that every Hunter Sees things a little differently, depending on their experiences and their particular impressions. However, the feeling of the creature is almost always the same. I have seen many, many times where two Hunters come to the realization of what they are Hunting at the same time without even talking about it, simply because they identified it based on the feeling.
Hunters largely deal with entities that are from other planes and realms who seek to harm the people of this realm – entities that are angry, hateful, or just plain malicious. It is a warrior’s path, and as such, there are dangers. I have been injured on Hunts on several occasions. These injuries are not physical, but they still hurt in a strange, deep-in-your-body kind of way. The best way I can think of to explain this feeling is like having a very sore muscle or a flare-up of an old injury. As far as anything beyond injuries, I have never personally heard of any Hunter of this realm dying while on the Hunt or from injuries incurred while Hunting. However, it is possible for one’s astral form to be killed while Hunting on the astral, which most often results in one “waking up” as if from a nightmare, but could conceivably result in becoming comatose. Again, this is something I’ve never heard of happening, but it is theoretically possible.
Finally, I often tell my apprentices, “I can teach you how to fight, but I also have to help you learn why to fight.” This will obviously vary from person to person, however, the most common reason I have heard is to defend those the Hunter loves and cares for. Another common reason is vengeance – they have been hurt in some way by these entities, and they seek to fight back in order to keep them from hurting others.
Geralt of Rivia by Leo Morg
Hunters in Media
One of the biggest influences on my path have been the media portrayals of Hunters. This, along with the fact that I trained with my best friend at the time, is why I have such confidence in the UPG I’ve received about Hunters. Many stories have portrayed Hunters in one way or another, and so many of them have similar traits. Below, I’ll list those Hunters in media which have influenced me the most or which I feel are the most true to form.
Demon Hunters (World of Warcraft & Diablo)
The character Illidan is literally the reason why I became a Hunter. His path, how he chose to become what he was, the sacrifices he made to do so, his ostracization from his own society, and the expression of his powers – all of these called to me in a time when I needed to see them. Demon hunters in Warcraft and in Diablo get their powers in similar ways; they expose themselves to dark energies and learn how to harness them to increase their strength. Because of this, they are often mistrusted in their own societies. The influence of these hunters led me to embrace many changes of a darker nature, including the aforementioned vampiric powers, berserker powers, and others that helped me to be stronger and faster but often at the cost of caring for the people around me. I’ve since moved away from these powers and taken more of a calm and contemplative path, but I still cannot deny the influence the demon hunters have had on me.
Witchers (the Witcher Saga games & books)
Although this is a more recent influence, it’s still a strong one. Witchers undergo rigorous training as children to prepare them for receiving mutagens that change their bodies, making them faster, stronger, and more alert to the world around them. They are also trained in minor magickal abilities called Signs, short but strong offensive and defensive spells. The main character, Geralt of Rivia, is the perfect model of the average Hunter. His mannerisms, sense of humor, and the way he approaches the world are a perfect representation of how Hunters behave. In my own practice, I now wear Geralt’s wolf medallion as wolves are a strong totem of mine and a symbol of several of my gods. I also have utilized the way they cast their Signs as an influence for integrating some of the runes into my fighting style.
Nick Burkhart (Grimm)
Nick is a great example of a Hunter’s mannerisms, their headstrong attitude, and their facial expressions (or so my wife says). It’s the best example I can think of for showing the Hunter’s sense of humor. This show does a very good job depicting Hunters, at least in the case of Nick and a few other characters that show up over time (in the story, most Grimms are extremists who hunt first and ask questions later; there are extreme Hunters out there, but they’re not very common). Outside of half-jokingly referring to myself as a Grimm, though, this show has no major influence on me – it’s just really good.
The Slayers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel)
The main thing about this show that struck me as accurate is the emotions of the Slayers. The emotions that Buffy goes through and some of the insights that are given to her by other people (whether she accepts them or not) are common among a lot of Hunters. More often than not, our greatest fear is ending up dying alone – or worse, becoming one of the monsters that we fight night in and night out. Additionally, the origin of the Slayers closely mirrors my UPG on the origin of Hunters (which I’ll get to in another post).
Other examples of Hunters in media include: Constantine (Hellblazer comics, movie, and TV show), the Winchesters (Supernatural), Van Helsing (Van Helsing and Dracula movies), and the Shadowhunters (the Mortal Instruments series), among others.
That’s it for now. My next post will go into the history of Hunters according to my UPG. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or message me through the contact form.